In Perform/Praxis, I consider my relationship to performance and practice as they relate to music I have performed in the past. Before creating this project, I came up with a one word manifesto for myself and landed on “practice” as a word that describes my approach to learning and life. When musicians perform on stage, all of the work they do in a practice room or with an orchestra is elided in favor of the final product. I wanted to make visible the dichotomy between performance and practice as they have manifested in my own time as a violinist and a pianist and disturb the binary division by re-inscribing practice in performance to create a performance praxis. All documentation for this piece comes from 2011-2015 when I was performing as a violinist with the Smith College Orchestra and taking piano lessons in the music department.
My analog object is a re-writing of part of Chopin Prelude no. 25 in D minor, which I will bring to class tomorrow. I practiced this piece for nearly a year, I never performed it in the sense of a recital, and have not played it in a year and half. I decided to practice the piece again by writing out the notation, which music teachers sometimes have their students do before they perform from memory. The photo below is a digital rendering of my analog object that uses a “negative film stock” filter in order to convey the way that my writing of the Prelude is a re-learning and performance of something I once could play from memory.
As I was learning the piece, I recorded segments that I struggled with in order to learn from the mistakes I made. The first digital object I created is a compiled series of recordings I made with my cell phone from July 2013 to June 2014 that trace my practice from playing small segments to finally playing the entire piece. Since I recorded this on my cell phone which was situated directly on top of the piano, the recording has an odd, tinny sound, and the full piece is at a lower volume than the rest of the practice sections (sorry about that!). All of my “mistakes” are on full display.
I then made a second digital object that documents a series of performances with the Smith College Orchestra. This recording does not contain our practice sessions–it only contains our performances. I compiled the recording by editing out sections of pieces with music editing software and attempted to create a new performance from our old performances. Certain places in the recording are more successful than others, but as a first time music editor, I’m still practicing!
I attempted to upload the audio to this page, but it looks like the site doesn’t allow us to attach audio files. I’ll send the files over to Laila and see if she can circulate them for us.